Smoothboi Ezra makes sad songs for sadboi ‘s

Photo by Leon McCullough

In a bedroom in Greystones, Ireland, Smoothboi Ezra spent isolated days and nights crafting their latest EP, Stuck. A collection of songs that seem sombre on the surface, but dig deeper and they try to understand the sadness they’ve been dealt. The sound is sparse, consisting mainly of just a guitar and Ezra’s voice, but this only further brings out the deep intimacy of their sound. Evoking the spirit of those early Soccer Mommy tapes, Ezra has both honed in their sound to resemble their biggest influences whilst simultaneously evolving their songs to become grander in their emotive palettes. Ezra’s music also offers an often overlooked insight into relationships, being both non-binary and on the autism spectrum, Ezra is trying to bring about more representation for neurodivergent and non-binary artists through their music and stories. We asked Ezra a few questions to get to know the smoothboi behind the songs.

Over what time and where was this EP recorded?


Between July 2020 and February 2021 all recorded in my bedroom.

 What has your last 12 months looked like?

Binge watching a bunch of different TV series, crocheting a lot, basically doing any type of arts and crafts between writing and recording my EP.

 You explore relationships and their eventual fallout on the EP, is the writing process somewhat therapeutic for you? Or is it more diaristic?

It’s a mixture of both, writing is my therapy – releasing it into the world is like releasing it from my brain.

Your songwriting is also very vulnerable lyrically, what allowed you to be this open with your music?

I don’t know how to be any other way when I’m writing. It’s easier to be vulnerable in my writing and tell the truth than to make things up.

What was the best part about recording this EP and what was the most challenging? 

The challenge is knowing when I’m finished with a song and to stop working on it. I just like making music so I like the whole process.

Your sound has a very melancholic undertone to it, is this something you try to achieve with each song or is that just a sound you naturally gravitate towards?

I’d say it’s a sound I naturally gravitate towards.

 Who inspires your sound? 

Musicians like Eillott Smith, Phoebe Brigers, Kate Bush, Haley Heyenderickx. They’re the musicians I listen to and I would love to sound like.

Do you think there needs to be more representation of non-binary and autistic artists in the music industry?

I think anyone who wants to make music should make music and be listened to, we definitely need to amplify more neurodivergent voices.

And if so what do you feel needs to be done to achieve this? 

The media should be open to covering more diverse artists. Venues need to be more accessible to all abilities. We should get more used to listening and giving platforms to autistic people who are not able to mask. I’ve seen that most autistic people in the media that are given airtime are able to mask to be more neurotypical passing, which is a comfort to neurotypical people. Autistic people who don’t have the capacity to mask deserve the same opportunities.

What will it be like playing those first shows again when they’re allowed?

It’s going to be exciting and I can’t wait.

What have been some of your favourite live memories so far? Both playing and gigs you’ve attended

When I supported Orville Peck two people came up to tell me that they loved my music and then they came to watch me at my first headline gig in Whelans (Dublin) later in the year, that was really nice. One of the first gigs I went to was The Front Bottoms and it still remains one of my favourite gigs along with Haley Heyenderickx.

If anything, what is something you’d like to change about the music industry? 

We need to do a better job of amplifying more neurodivergent voices and musicians and creatives of all types.

Stuck EP is available to stream everywhere and buy now.

Merpire announces debut album, shares new single “Village”

Merpire, aka Melbourne based singer-sonwriter Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt has announced her debut album Simulation Ride to be released via Warner’s ADA on 23rd July. She has also shared new single “Village” along with an accompanying music video directed by Nick Mckk.

On the new single Merpire is humbly honest, speaking on themes of self-doubt she draws a portrait of an artist with sincerity at the forefront. Smooth instrumentation backs Merpire’s naturally cool lowkey vocals. Honing in the sound of those early Soccer Mommy tapes with a grungier outburst, Merpire achieves indie brilliance.

Speaking on the new single Rhiannon said:

This loosely inspired the idea of it taking a village to nurture someone. Sometimes I would get so caught up in self doubt, seeing qualities in people that I didn’t think I had, that I forgot to see what qualities I had that they might love me for. I constantly put pressure on myself to be happier, more energetic, more sociable. I didn’t see myself as an interesting person without that or without my music and when I was feeling tired or withdrawn I’d beat myself up about it, not feeling worthy of company and thinking I was just a boring person who happened to be a musician (and punt people around on a boat in the gardens apparently?!). This affected my relationship. I didn’t believe someone could be in love with me when there seemed to be way more interesting people out there.”

Listen to the new single below!

Tracklist:

  1. Village
  2. Lately
  3. Brain Cells
  4. Habit
  5. Dinosaur
  6. Sink Interlude
  7. Easy
  8. Heavy Feeling
  9. Old Vein
  10. Sink In
  11. Yusiimi

Smoothboi Ezra announces new EP ‘Stuck’, shares new single

Photo by Nicholas O’Donnell

Smoothboi Ezra, the songwriting project of Greystones, Ireland based Ezra Williams, have today announced their new EP Stuck, set to be released on June 11th. They have also shared a tender new single of the same name with an accompanying music video directed by Arthur Studholme and starring non-binary couple El and Lauren.

Ezra’s latest EP ‘Stuck’ takes a closer look at the intricacies of relationships. Written during lockdown to a soundtrack of Angel Olsen, Soccer Mommy and Haley Heynderickx, the EP recalls a formative relationship with sensitivity and maturity scarcely attributed to young people. Speaking about the title track, Ezra says: 

“‘Stuck’ is a song about being in a relationship with someone you care a lot about but you know it’s not going to work out. It’s an unsaid mutual agreement that you can feel the relationship ending but you’re both waiting on the other person to end it.” 

Watch the new video below!

Tracklist

  1. Stuck
  2. Without Me
  3. You
  4. Palm Of Your Hand

Soccer Mommy releases color theory demos

Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

Soccer Mommy have shared 6 new demos of songs that appeared on their sophomore album color theory. Read our review of the album here. They have also announced a new Deluxe Binder LP edition of the album, kept in a school binder that includes flexi-discs of the demos as well as various stationary items.

Earlier in the year Soccer Mommy launched a ‘Soccer Mommy and Friends’ single series in which she swapped covers and remixes with other musicians such as Beabadoobee, Jay Som and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden.

Listen to the new demos below.

beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers Album Review

Dirty Hit – 2020

Bea Kristi, the Phillipines born, London based singer-songwriter has spent the last couple of years building up an online base of dedicated fans, thanks to her slew of bedroom-pop orientated slew of EP’s. Following from the likes of Clairo, Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail, Kristi has helped in the revival of the guitar ballad for a new generation. The chorus filled guitars and dreamy melodies of 2019’s Loveworm showed an emerging songwriter that played into the intimate side of a song, creating emotion through vibrant soundscapes and affection filled lyrics. On her debut album Fake It Flowers Kristi’s songwriting is as potent as ever, whilst expanding her sound out to incorporate a more grunge fuelled drive.

The bubblegum pop sound that Kristi has attributed herself to is still present on this album, “Dye It Red” with its driving groove and Kristi’s ever potent lyrics of self worth “And maybe it’s time to change my ways, But that doesn’t include you”. But the feel of this album is that of blending nostalgia with the present. The early 2000’s pop punk sounds of Avril Lavigne can be heard throughout opener “Care” through its punchy guitars and slacker like groove, whilst still infusing the signature chorus filled indie guitar leads. And on “Charlie Brown” the cinematic guitar hits build perfectly to the all out rager chorus lines of “Throw it away” that have all the elements of a Blink-182 Enema Of The State era hit. This expansions of Kristi’s sound is a natural progression for the grunge superfan, who previously stated “I want to live in the 90’s“. Coming out in its harshest form on “Sorry” as the fuzzed up guitars crash in on the chorus, backed by a Nirvana style riff. A short but potent burst of pure raw emotion.

Kristi also explores new textures of her more dreamy and ethereal side on “Back To Mars” and “Emo Song”. The first of which does come to a conclusion rather quickly, leaving you wondering how much more of this sound Kristi could have incorporated if she’d just given it that extra push. But the latter does present some of Kristi’s most nostalgia filled soundscaping to date through its gliding melodies and twinkling synthesisers. Tapping into that 90’s inspired throwback sound that could be found all over fellows contemporary Soccer Mommy’s debut album Clean.

This album is beabadoobee in and out. Not just in the sense of her being the one that created it, but rather laying down every aspect of herself into this album. Her inspirations are clear within the sound but where the honesty of this album really comes through is in the storytelling. One of the saddest sounding songs on the album, “Emo Song” also has one of the most personal stories on the album as Kristi tells the story of how being mistreated in her childhood let to her developing trust issues later in life. “You call me up, and lie again, Like all the men I used to trust, Nobody knows when I was young, I lost myself in cosmic dust”. There’s even reference to self harm on “Charlie Brown” as Kristi explains how a tattoo of Snoopy helped stop her from harming herself. “Back on old habits, That no one knows about, Too bad that Charlie Brown, Has inked you up to slow you down”. It’s this level of intimacy and emotional outpour that helps establish Kristi’s earnestness, creating a truly relatable and authentic songwriter.

Where this album looses its footing however is towards the latter half of the tracklist, almost as if Kristi has used all her impact to on the opening of the album and runs a bit dry of new ideas. “How Was Your Day?” is the second longest song on the album and it really feels like it. At 4:20 it’s not the longest song in the world but after chugging through a multitude of verses, it can become a bit overbearing and dragging after a while. The lo-fi recording of it also feels like a throwback to some of Kristi’s earliest releases, but this late on in the album slows down the pacing and the flow and just feels almost like an unnecessary gimmick. And for all the bravado and show tune-esque emotion that is thrown into “Horen Sarrison” it still seems to spend a bit too much time floating about on a violin sweep or instrumental breakout without offering any real direction for the song. There’s some fantastic use of melody shifting within the track, but too often it leans back on this as a way of prolonging the song out further. The frantic nature of Kristi’s sound returns on closer “Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene” but the wild flailing guitars and rolling melodies feel a bit too raw and unpolished to finish off an album that has been all about impact and packing a punch.

An album that showcases what beabadoobe is all about, and why you should know her name. That’s not to say it isn’t without its flaws, but it stands as a very solid starting position, ready for beabadoobee to race out into the world and show it what she’s made of.

Soccer Mommy announces ‘Soccer Mommy and Friends’ singles series

Photo by Brian Ziff

Soccer Mommy has announced a new singles series in aid of Oxfam’s Covid-19 relief fund. The series will be released in four volumes featuring Jay Som, MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee, and Beach Bunny, where each volume will have each artist covering a song from the others discography. The first volume is available now and the rest are available for pre-order here.

In a statement Soccer Mommy said “Oxfam is working with partners to reach more than 14 million people in nearly 50 countries and the u.s. to prevent the spread of covid-19 in vulnerable communities and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. women and girls usually bear a disproportionate burden of care in a crisis like this one, and Oxfam has a proven record of helping women cope during and recover after these crises in ways that allow them to be safer and stronger than ever. Oxfam has an anonymous donor who will match the first $5000 we raise!”

The first volume features Soccer Mommy covering Jay Som’s ‘I Think You’re Alright’ and Jay Som covering Soccer Mommy’s Lucy.

Soccer Mommy – Color Theory Album Review

Loma Vista – 2020

Soccer Mommy takes a deep dive into her emotional identity and lays it all out bare

Sophie Allison, also known as Soccer Mommy, returns with her sophomore album ‘Color Theory’. The follow up to 2017’s critically acclaimed ‘Clean’ which saw Allison reach massive new audiences and become a household name in the world of indie rock, with the album taking many of the highest spots on best of the year lists, and deservedly on some best of the decade lists.

Although this is Allison’s second full length album under the Soccer Mommy name she has an impressive back catalogue of various EP’s, Mini Albums and collections of songs. A treasure trove of bedroom indie-pop that showcases her early songwriting and story telling talent. But after years of ever growing quality and greater sonic exploration, would Allison play it safe now that she has an established audience?

The concept of ‘Color Theory’ is based on the simple but powerful, colour theory. The theory that certain colours are linked to particular moods and feelings. This concept is explored on ‘Color Theory’ as the album is split into three sections, or colours. The first four songs are Blue, representing depression, the next three are Yellow, representing anxiety but also hope, and the final three are Grey, representing death and loss.

The first of the Blue section is ‘Bloodstream’, a track that explores some of the darkest themes on the album early on, wishing you could go back to a time when you were younger and happier, and covering up evidence of previous self harm. “Cause I may not feel it now, covered up the wounds with my long sleeves
But I know it’s waiting there, swimming through my bloodstream And it’s gonna come for me”. The instrumentals sing a different tune with the up beat chugging riff and the calming melody hide the true message of the song from the casual listener.

“Circle The Drain”, the third single released, is the catchiest tune on the album with its anthemic chorus it is sure to be a fan, and radio, favourite. (Watch Soccer Mommy perform ‘Circle The Drain’ on Jimmy Kimmel here). As a common premise of the album the upbeat early 90’s indie riff is contrasted with Allison’s deep diving lyrics that embrace her emotional termoil. “Round and around, Circle the drain, I’m going down”.

‘Royal Screw Up’ takes a change of style to the last two tracks as the idea of a chorus is dropped altogether in favour of a diary entry like poem style of lyrics that blend into one long story with no two phrases the same. It’s Allison at her rawest, no idea is overthought and every inceptive emotion is real. The song does feel a little drawn out at points and feels as though you’re slowly chugging along to get through it, with the eventual payoff of the lead guitars and rhythm section towards the end.

The gentle ballad of ‘Night Swimming’ is a story of looking for help and comfort when you feel alone from someone else, but getting nothing back. The most shoegaze song on the album with the distant drones, ambient vocals and big reverb it wouldn’t feel out of place on a Beach House album. The bleak image of sitting alone at the end of a pool whilst everyone around you is having a good time is drawn in your mind as the sampled background chatter fades in and out. “You watched me sink beneath the water like a stone, and then let go, I came for air and found that I was so alone”

“Crawling In My Skin” is Soccer Mommy embracing her inner goth. Exploring the idea of anxiety and sleep paralysis at home and feeling as if you’re being watched by a demon. A heavier grungier riff and haunting layered vocals shows Allison maturing as a songwriter and takes the Soccer Mommy sound into significantly darker territories than they’ve ever been before, long gone are the soft indie acoustic numbers of ‘For Young Hearts’.

“The bright August sun feels like yellow, And the white of her eyes is so yellow”. The opening line to Soccer Mommy’s 7 minute epic which is “Yellow Is The Colour Of Her Eyes”. It’s Allison trying to cope with the thought of being away from her terminally Ill mother and the feeling of losing time with her. With perhaps the gloomiest riff on the album, and some of the most personal lyrics this is Allison laying out all her emotions into one song. Essentially split into two halves, the main song and then the outro, this song takes you on an emotional journey and stands as a centre piece for the album as a whole.

A short but sweet apology to a lover for mental health issues that Allison has suffered from in the past and the strain it may have had on their relationship takes the form of “Up The Walls”. The gradual build up of instruments and layers creates a blissful palette of sound, only to slowly fade out again, making you wish it would stick around for a bit longer and offer a few more ideas. But then again we have just come out the back of a mini epic, this light relief is gently settling us back down for the end of this phase.

The final leg of the album, the grey area if you may, is opened with the first single released from the album. “Lucy” again embraces a more gothic side to Allison’s songwriting. A song about battling your inner demons and morality, disguised as a seduction from the devil himself, or Lucy to his friends. “His body’s a temple, made of brimstone and fire, you cannot resist him, when you look in his shiny eyes”. The clever dark lyricism on this song, contrasted with the bright upbeat guitar riff, would to the casual listener sound like your average indie-rock hit, but dive deeper and you see the workings of one of the most talented songwriters in the modern indie scene.

“Stain” is a cut that wouldn’t feel out of place thematically on ‘Clean’. Feeling angry at a past situation that manipulated you and the feeling of loss from it. Its menacing riff, sparse instrumentation and ominous tone is Allison laying out her emotions front and centre, not hiding behind the music. The song does suffer though from the pacing as with ‘Royal Screw Up’ and feels as if it’s building towards a climax that never arrives.

The last stop on our journey through Allisons subconscious is one that will eventually be the end of all our journey’s. The overarching fear of certain mortality, and death, comes front and centre on “Gray Light”. Allison is watching over her sick mother, gazing up at the pale moon and wondering when this is going to happen to her. “Inside the gray light of my room, Am I just like you?, Am I gonna be that way too soon?”. The more experimental side of Soccer Mommy’s sound comes out with electronic drum machines, sampled tape rewinds and big synth drops, it shows hints of what Soccer Mommy could be capable of creating without straining too far away from her classic melancholy guitar riffs.

The sound and stories embodied within this album showcase a songwriter getting a bit older, feeling more confident in their ability to convey these stories and the emotions attached to them and not scared to take risks to progress their sound to the next level. Soccer Mommy continues to cement her status as one of indie’s most promising new talents and after two solid full length albums she doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.